Espacios. Vol. 35 (Nº 5) Año 2014. Pág. 17
Bibliometric analysis of the scientific production of the concept of intellectual capital (1980-2012)
A análise bibliométrica da produção científica do conceito de capital intelectual (1980-2012)
Caroline Rodrigues VAZ; Paula Regina Zarelli ROCHA; Mauricio Uriona MALDONADO; Paulo Mauricio SELIG y João Paulo Zarelli ROCHA
Recibido: 04/03/14 • Aprobado: 22/04/14
The idea of generating competitive advantages from the creation and protection of knowledge has originated a strand with strong impact in the professional field nominated “knowledge management” (WIGG, 1997).
Thus, knowledge management under the optics of Bukowitz and Williams (2002, p. 17) is “the process by which the company generates wealth, from its knowledge or intellectual capital”. Herrero (2005) believes that the company’s value is composed by the financial capital (tangible asset) and the intellectual capital value (intangible asset), the latter understood as intellectual matter (knowledge, information, industrial property, experience) that can used to generate wealth.
According to Pacheco (2005), the intangible assets are having a dominant role in wealth generation in the corporate scope, because they are considered key-competence and driving force to value their own tangible assets, reach objectives and integrate management efforts.
In consequence of the importance of the intangible assets and the very wide role of its occurrences in the corporate branch, this research pays special attention to those that compose the companies’ Intellectual Capital (innovations, brand, corporate image, among others).
For Stewart (1998), the Intellectual Capital corresponds to a set of knowledge and information found in companies, which aggregates value to the product and/or services, through intelligence and non-monetary capital application on the undertaking.
The companies of the 21st century present cycles always more accelerated of innovation, show that knowing how to manage the intellectual capital has become an essential pre-requisite to business success, since success is more and more based in intelligence aggregation to their processes, products and services (GRACIOLI, 2005).
In this matter, Tasca et al. (2010) show the problematic that many researchers deal with while trying to justify the theoretical referential selected to sustain their research. Situation that, according to the authors, denotes the relevance of a structured process to this end, in a way to provide a robust theoretical board.
On this context, emerges a research problem that orients the making of the present paper: How to build the demanded knowledge for a researcher when in the beginning of a research in the intellectual capital subject in order to provide the necessary conditions to, in a second moment, seek opportunities to contribute in the chosen thematic?
To answer this research questions, the objective of this paper is to conduct a meta-review (bibliometric analysis) of the literature about intellectual capital investigation the productivity and conducting the analysis of citations, researchers, institutions and countries from 1980 to 2012.
The reach of this general objective will be me possible by the following objectives: (a) Selecting a relevant Bibliographic Portfolio about intellectual capital; (b) Perform a bibliometric analysis of the chosen bibliographic portfolio and its references, aiming to identify journals, papers and key words that are highlighted, as well as the evolution of the subject.
The paper presents itself in five sections, being the first composed by the introduction. Followed by the presentation of the theoretical referential of intellectual capital on section 2. The third by the methodological procedures in the research. The fourth composed by the procedures on the selection of the theoretical referential, being also subdivided in preliminary investigation, selection of papers that will compose the portfolio for the research and, bibliometric analysis of the paper portfolio for the theoretical referential at issue. And, at last, presenting the final conclusions.
The Intellectual Capital has begun in Management by Peter Drucker, with an empirical concept, which sought to analyse the intervenient elements in the generation of value of companies (GRACIOLI, 2005). For Stewart (1998), the intellectual capital corresponds to a set of knowledge and information found in companies, which aggregates value to product and/or services, through the usage of intelligence and not of monetary capital for the undertaking.
Hence, the value generated by the intellectual capital depends of the human capital, which is the most important factor for survival and renovation of companies in all their activity levels, states Pacheco (2005).
Norton and Kaplan (2000), cite that in a study made with different companies, the accountable value of tangible assets was not bigger than 15% of its market value, the remaining value was attributed to the intangible assets, associated with knowledge, intellectual and human capital.
Companies of this century are not only more connected to the industrial era, are also more dependent of their employees, states Lev (2001), to the extent that aggregate knowledge to productive processes and to management in general. Board 1 shows the general view of the categories of existent resources within a company, and, at the same time, analyses them in topics, what constitutes the material resources (tangible) and immaterial resources (intangible) subject to being capitalised.
Board 1 – Categories and Resources of a company
Source: Granstrand (1999, p. 7)
In general, these immaterial categories (intangible) depend, directly or indirectly, of the existence of qualified human resources. Hence, as exists a concern with intellectual capital, there will be a higher valuing of the human factor on companies.
Stewart (1998, p. 13) admits that the Intellectual Capital, as a group of occult values that aggregate value to companies, allowing its continuity. Taking into account such concepts, it can be said that the Intellectual Capital is a set of values, be it capital, an asset, or a resource, both are found occult and all tend to aggregate real value to the company.
Lynn (2000), from a variety of sources, develops a model of three components for intellectual capital that had been identified in the research of Dzinkowski (1998):
Board 2 – Elements of Intellectual Capital
Source: Dzinkowski (1998).
a. Human Capital: According to Lynn (2000, p. 2), the human capital is presented as know-how, capacities, abilities and specialisations of human resources of a company, this is one of the critical assets in the intellectual capital group, being that the management of human capital frequently creates and sustains wealth of a company.
b. Organisational or structural capital: Covers the remaining elements of the intellectual capital, including information systems and values, together with elements of intellectual property, such as patents, copyright, brands, etc. The organisational (structural) capital is the backbone of the company itself, which involves their organisational capacity, including its management planning, and control systems, processes, functional grids, policies and even its culture, that is, all that helps a company to generate value (PACHECO, 2005).
c. Relational capital (customers and suppliers): Is identified as a separate entity and, according to Lynn (2000, p. 2), embodies “any of the connections that people outside of the company have with it”, together with customer loyalty, market slice, amount of orders, amount of orders, etc. Regards connections of a company with its customers and suppliers, what also creates value through loyalty, better markets, speed and quality. In this way, it can be translated in measures of regular customers whose loyalty generates regular sales and reduce the costs of seeking new customers.
According to Dzinkowski (1998), there is a model of creation of value of intellectual capital that is composed by three instances that interrelate to form the value of human capital, customer capital (relational) and organisational (structural) capital. The creation of value , completely, is the main goal of all commercial activities, while the fundamental function of traditional accountability is to supply trustable information to external investors, and for that, depends of the sub adjacent economy to all commercial activities.
This section presents the classification of the research and the methodological procedures used in the construction and analysis of the bibliographic portfolio about intellectual capital.
3.1 Research classification
The research is characterised as of theoretical nature in relation to the approached subject. As for its technical procedures, falls as a bibliographic study, because it will treat data and verifications stemmed directly of already done works of the researched subject. From the point of view of the objectives, it can be classified as explanatory and descriptive, since it will seek specific information and characteristics of what is being studied (GIL, 2007).
3.2 Research procedure
The bibliometric analysis is a technique for mapping of the main authors, journals and key words about a subject. Uriona Maldonado, Silva Santos and Santos (2010) states that these techniques are tools that are supported in a methodological theoretical recognised scientifically, which allows the use of statistical and mathematical methods to map information, through bibliographic registries of documents stored in the data bases.
In complement, it is highlighted the bibliometric analysis presented by Ensslin et al (2010), as follows:
And the process of quantitative evidencing of the statistical data of a defined set of papers (bibliographic portfolio) for information management and scientific knowledge of a given subject, made through document counting.
For the bibliometric analysis were utilised the constant papers of the bibliographic portfolio and its references for ascertaining the relevance degree of authors and most used key words.
Was employed as intervention tool in this work the process for bibliographic review, according to the constructivist view, called ProKnow-C (Knowledge Development Process – Constructivism), proposed by Ensslin et al. (2010).
The intervention tool proposed by Ensslin et al. (2010) for the selection of a bibliographic portfolio is consubstantiated in a subdivided process in four phases: i) selection of the crude papers bank: composed by the definition of the key words; definition of the data bases; seeking of papers in the data bases with the key words and the key words adherence test; ii) filtering: composed by the filtering of the crude paper bank regarding redundancy and filtering of the crude paper bank non repeated regarding title alignment; iii) filtering of the paper bank: composed by the determining of scientific acknowledgement of papers; identifying the authors; iv) filtering as for the alignment of the whole paper, also through the ProKnow-C, the present paper will proceed the bibliometric analysis of the papers that compose it.
The software EndNote X5 (ENDNOTE, 2011) was used to generate and treat the collected references. The EndNote tool is a manager of bibliographic references made by Thomson Scientific that works integrated to the Web of Science. Eases the work of investigation and writing of the scientific work and allows reuniting bibliographic references from online data bases, import metadata and group them in many ways.
4.1 Construction of the bibliographic portfolio
Lacerda (2010) states that the evolution of information systems, the use of data bases (indexed systems), is to ease searches for bibliographic references and for the construction of theoretical platforms for future researches.
The selection of papers was made in May, 2012, in the Web of Science, Science Direct, and SCOPUS data bases, using as criteria to seek the terms “Intellect*” and “Capital” in the key-words, titles and abstracts of papers. Since there was interest in understanding the construct and its origins in a deeper way there wasn’t any temporal frame. In other another words, all selected papers were analysed. The truncation symbol “*” was used to amplify the number of answers, because it recovers plurals, expressions with the same radical and graphic variations of the key words.
- Web of Science: multidisciplinary base that indexes only the most cited journals in their respective fields. Is also an index of citations, informing, for each paper, documents cited and documents that cite it. There are, today, more than 9,000 indexed journals.
- SCOPUS: abstract, scientific literature, literature citations and information sources database. It indexes more than 15,000 journals, circa 265 million internet pages, 18 million patents, among other documents.
- Science Direct: availability of Elsevier and other editors publications, covering the fields of Biological Sciences, Health Sciences, Agricultural Sciences, Exact and Hard Sciences, Engineering, Applied Social Sciences, Human Sciences, Languages and Arts.
In these three consulted bases were established search criteria, such as: paper only searches, field (management, business, economics, operations, engineering, multidisciplinary, education, industrial engineering, environmental business, social finance and social sciences) and topics (social capital, human capital, structural capital, intellectual capital and sustainable capital). As for the period, it was not stipulated to verify the subject evolution. 2260 papers were found, as shown in image 1.
Image 1 – Amount of papers in the data bases
Source: Authors (2012)
Then, the main filtering of crude articles was made through: identification of duplicated papers and reading of abstracts, leaving only the aligned papers with the subject, as shown in image 2.
Image 2 – Filtered articles
Source: Authors (2012).
4.2 Bibliometric Analysis
4.2.1 Subject Evolution
It was identified that the year of publication of the 674 selected papers. Image 3 shows the year evolution, which ranges from 1988 to 2012 of works made about the subject.
Image 3 – Evolution of the subject with published scientific works.
Source: Authors (2012).
It can be observed that there was a significative evolution of related works with the subject Intellectual Capital in the last few years. Beggining in 1988 with “Technical Knowledge and Intellectual Capital in door thrust of Chinas open door Policy” made by SINGH, K. that treats technical knowledge and intellectual capital in the port-momentum in China’s politics. Although, the significative raise initiated in 2005 with forty-four papers, in 2011 with 133 and, until May, 2012 with fourty papers. And this has a tendency to grow.
4.2.2 Relevant journals
Were identified 302 journals in the bibliometric portfolio, image 4 shows the ones that most obtained selected papers. The most highlighted journals were Journal of Intellectual Capital with 134 papers, due to being the main journal in the Intellectual Capital field, for being dedicated to exchange of information about practises in all aspects of creation, identification, management and measuring of intellectual capital in enterprises.
Followed by Journal of Learning and Intellectual Capital with 33 papers, which treats works that involve innovation influence, learning, knowledge management and intellectual capital about the making of competitive advantage for companies in the new age of economy.
Image 4 – Journals relation
Source: Authors (2012).
4.2.3 Relevant key-words
Were obtained 1775 key-words by the portfolio authors. In image 5 are described the words with the most repetition that relate directly with intellectual capital, and also validates the key-words adherence used in the selection of papers with the found papers.
Image 5 – Relation of key-words
Source: Authors (2012).
4.2.4 Relevant authors
It can be observed in image 6 the relation of the most highlighted authors in the bibliographic portfolio. Altogether, the 674 papers with the portfolio subject were elaborated by 1302 authors. It is observed that the most repeated is Bontis, N.
Image 6 – Relation of authors
Source: Authors (2012).
It was verified that some of the consagrated authors in this subject appear in the selection of the porfolio’s papers, as in:
- Bontis, N: "Managing organizational knowledge by diagnosing intellectual capital: Framing and advancing the state of the field. (1999)"; "Human capital and organizational performance: A study of Egyptian software companies. (2007)"; "A causal model of human capital antecedents and consequents in the financial services industry. (2009)"; "Positioning management accounting on the intellectual capital agenda. (2007)"; "Intellectual capital disclosure payback. (2011)"; "Intellectual capital and business performance in the Portuguese banking industry. (2008)" "On the "essential condition" of intellectual capital: Labour! (2006)"; "Managing risk with intellectual capital statements. (2007)"; "Global ranking of knowledge management and intellectual capital academic journals. (2008)"; "A scientometric analysis of knowledge management and intellectual capital academic literature (1994-2008). (2010)"; "Practical relevance of knowledge management and intellectual capital scholarly research: Books as knowledge translation agents. (2011)"; "Intellectual capital and business performance in the pharmaceutical sector of Jordan. (2010)"; "Managing intellectual capital in Nigerian telecommunications companies. (2012)".
- Roos, G.: "Information needs of internal and external stakeholders and how to respond: Reporting on operations and intellectual capital. (2007)"; "Intellectual capital and performance indicators: Taiwanese healthcare sector. (2007)"; "Intellectual capitals, business models and performance measurements in forming strategic network. (2011)"; "Intellectual capital: Origin and evolution. (2006)", "Intellectual capital analysis as a strategic tool. (2002)"; "Towards improved information disclosure on intellectual capital. (2000)".
- Edvinsson, L.: "Developing intellectual capital at Skandia. (1997)"; "Developing a model for managing intellectual capital. (1996)"; "Intellectual capital: from intangible assets to fitness landscapes. (2001)"; "National intellectual capital: Comparison of the Nordic countries. (2008)".
- Johson, W. H. A.: "Integrative taxonomy of intellectual capital: Measuring the stock and flow of intellectual capital components in the firm. (1999)".
- Stewart, T. A.: "Your Company most Valuable Asset - Intellectual Capital. (1994)".
And appears a new term in Intellectual Capital: “Green”, facing environmental matters, defined by Chen, Y. S., in works:
- Chen, Y. S.: "The determinants of green intellectual capital. (2012)"; "The positive effect of green intellectual capital on competitive advantages of firms. (2008)"; "The influence of intellectual capital on new product development performance - The manufacturing companies of Taiwan as an example. (2006)".
The “Green” Intellectual Capital, also known as Environmental Management Intellectual Capital or Green Innovation was nominated by Yu-Shan Chen, assistant professor of the National Taiwan University of Science and Technology, in 2008.
This new nomination appeared to raise a competitive advantage of enterprises through environmental management or green innovation, widespread subject in today’s world. Due to tendencies of international environmental regulations and awareness of customers, states Chen (2008).
In this way, Dr. Chen found a gap of research, exploring Intellectual Capital about the view of Environmental Management or “Green” Innovation in a way to bring competitive advantage to enterprises.
Hence, “Green” Intellectual Capital was defined was defined as final stock of all intangible assets, knowledge, capacity and relationship relations, regarding protection of the environment and/or “green” innovation in an individual level or an inside the enterprise level (CHEN, 2008).
4.2.5 Relevant Papers
Regarding the most relevant papers, the Intellectual Capital presented 275 papers with citations of the bibliographic portfolio. Board 3 shows the relation of quantity of paper citations in the Google Scholar higher than 100.
Board 3 – Relation of quantity of intellectual capital paper citation
Source: Authors (2012).
In the classification of academic relevance made under the optics of number of citations of the selected portfolio papers the study that excelled was NAHAPIET, J., with the work “Social capital, intellectual capital, and the organizational advantage”, obtaining 7055 citations. And the work of ZUCKER, L.; DARBY, M. with “Intellectual Human Capital and the Birth of U.S. Biotechnology Enterprises”, with 1768 citations. “The role of social and human capital among nascent entrepreneurs” from DAVIDSSON, P., obtained 1252 citations.
Image 7 presents the relation between the most relevant authors’ networks with the papers from the bibliographic portfolio. And image 8 shows a network of correlation of authors versus co-authors of the bibliographic portfolio papers. Each circle corresponds to an old portfolio, and their size is proportional to their size. The arrows indicate when a paper is cited by another author and are faced from the paper that cited to the cited paper. Even with the indication of the articles on the map in a certain illegal way, it is observed that an intense connection between the portfolio papers. Hence, the most recent authors have cited older authors, what demonstrates being a science field that is expanding.
Image 7 – Correlation between most relevant authors versus papers grid
Source: Authors (2012).
Image 8 – Correlation between the authors versus co-authors of the bibliographic portfolio papers grid
Source: Authors (2012).
The objective of this study focused in presenting a meta-review (bibliometric analysis) of the literature about intellectual capital.
The paper is divided in two parts: the portfolio construction and the bibliometric analysis. The construction of the portfolio had as objective selecting the most relevant papers on the subject in matter. Being that, the bibliographic analysis sought to ascertain the main papers, authors, journals and key words published from 1980 to 2012.
The portfolio construction process has made possible an analysis of 2260 papers, culminating with a final portfolio of 674 papers aligned with the subject.
The bibliometric analysis showed that the main journals that approach and publish about the subject are Journal of Intellectual Capital, with 134 papers. Followed by Journal of Learning and Intellectual Capital, with 33 papers.
As for the key words, the most highlighted one was Intellectual Capital itself, appearing with 400 repetitions.
The focused authors in this research were Bontis, N.; Roos, G.; Edvinsson, L.; Johnson, W. H. A.; Stewart, T. A.; Chen, Y. S.; with works about intellectual capital, intangible assets and green intellectual capital.
In the classification of academic relevance made under the optics regarding the number of citations of the selected papers in the portfolio, the main work was from Nahapiet, J., with the work “Social capital, intellectual capital, and the organizational advantage”, which obtained 7055 citations. In addition, the work of Zucker, L. and Darby M. with “Intellectual Human Capital and the Birth of U.S. Biotechnology Enterprises”, with 1768 citations. Also, “The role of social and human capital among nascent entrepreneurs” from Davidsson, P. with 1252 citations.
Hence, the research questions – “How to build the demanded knowledge for a researcher when in the beginning of a research in the intellectual capital subject in order to provide the necessary conditions to, in a second moment, seek opportunities to contribute in the chosen thematic?” – was answered through section four.
In this way, under the importance in the development of academic researches around intellectual capital, the objective of this analysis was centred in presenting today’s situation of the literature.
With originality and value, this paper presents a evolution of studies about concept of intellectual capital on literature review on this topic that has previously been published in academic journals.
The limitations of this research were: i) delimitation on the sample field, for in his work were used only three data bases; ii) usage of international works only; iii) only journals were used, were not considered theses, dissertations, monographs, congresses or books; iv) absence of an empirical research. Based on Serenjo, Bontis and Hull (2011), even if the practitioners of the subject are actively involved in the field development, the total contribution for the body of knowledge has decreased gradually.
Finally, as recommendations for future researches is recommended: i) the usage of more data bases from the Capes portal; ii) considering national data bases; iii) considering other works like theses, dissertations, books and scientific congresses; and, iv) making of empirical research based on the construct of intellectual capital and research opportunities.
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